Monday, July 23, 2012
Bill O'Brien now has a huge task ahead
By James Walker
Joe Paterno's legacy is tarnished, and Jerry Sandusky is jail-bound. But one of the people left to clean up the huge mess at Penn State University is former New England Patriots offensive coordinator Bill O'Brien.
Penn State is expected to face unprecedented sanctions by the NCAA on Monday. It's the result of Sandusky's child molestation charges and a subsequent investigation revealing Paterno allegedly knowing and failing to report Sandusky.
You have to wonder if O'Brien is having second thoughts of leaving the cushy job he had in New England. O'Brien happily took the Penn State job thinking he inherited a potential collegiate power. Instead, Penn State's football program will be on life support once the NCAA is done with it. This is not what O'Brien signed up for in February after the Patriots lost to the New York Giants in the Super Bowl.
O'Brien had nothing to do with Penn State's issues. Yet, he's the person who most has to handle the consequences. It will include a rash of transfers, lost recruits and scholarships.
O'Brien gave up a chance to continue working with quarterback Tom Brady and head coach Bill Belichick on a daily basis. It was a job built for success, and O'Brien's star was on the rise in the NFL. If he didn't take this Penn State job, it was probably a matter of time before an NFL team called.
Update: The NCAA's penalty is in. Penn State is fined $60 million, gets a four-year postseason ban and has to vacate wins dating to 1998. O'Brien released a statement Monday.
"Today we receive a very harsh penalty from the NCAA and as head coach of the Nittany Lions football program, I will do everything in my power to not only comply, but help guide the university forward to become a national leader in ethics, compliance and operational excellence," O'Brien said in the statement. "I knew when I accepted the position that there would be tough times ahead. But I am committed for the long term to Penn State and our student athletes."